Many of us have learned to cope with our loneliness by doing whatever we can not to have to feel it. We use relationships to stave off the loneliness. We stay in unhealthy, toxic, even abusive relationships, sometimes because we’re afraid of being alone. We try to fill the silence so we don’t have to be alone with ourselves and our painful thoughts. We don’t feel grounded or whole within ourselves, so we try to fill ourselves with external things. Very often we end up feeling like we’ve gone off track. We’ve made choices that weren’t good for us. We put ourselves in harm’s way. We sacrificed our own wellbeing, all because we were afraid to be lonely. Emotional growth involves learning how to be alone, how to stop using relationships to avoid feeling lonely, how to stop running from ourselves. Usually our emotional difficulties catch up with us, we can’t run from then anymore, and our go-to distractions no longer work. Our pain becomes unavoidable. When we surrender to it, the loneliness can feel unbearable. We want desperately to call that person we’re trying to distance ourselves from. We know it’s an unhealthy relationship, but affection and attention can function the way drugs do, and we become dependent on how good they feel. We might engage in risky sexual behaviors because we feel desperately needy. Our loneliness can drive us to act in reckless and dangerous ways, just as any other drug can. How do we stop running from the loneliness? The answer, though far from easy, lies in surrendering to the pain and fear. It means sitting with the painful feelings that come up, accepting and allowing them, feeling the full weight of them in your body but not acting on them. You might find that the feelings of loneliness hit hard, but then like a wave recede and stop feeling quite as painful. We can practice detachment – detaching from the unhealthy people and behaviors we’ve been using, detaching from our neediness, detaching from the fears that make us feel we aren’t whole or complete. Along with practicing acceptance and detachment, we can work to make the conscious decision that we deserve the very best. Part of building our self-worth is learning how to be alone, how to enjoy our own company, how to be at peace within ourselves without distraction, avoidance or escapism. Practice spending time alone. Make time for the hobbies and passions you pursued before addiction took over your life. Find new ones – ask friends for suggestions, do some online research, brainstorm, think back on what you loved to do as a child. You might find a passion that makes you so happy that you start to thrive on solitude and embrace the loneliness.
We offer recreation therapy and occupational therapy to help you to develop new life skills, coping mechanisms and fun recreational activities you can use in recovery.
Call 1-888-986-7848 for more information.